Iran’s Nuclear Grass Eaters

MADRID – After long years of failed international efforts to end Iran’s cunning drive to develop nuclear weapons, the question today is no longer whether the West can prevent the nuclearization of Iran’s military arsenal, but whether the Islamic regime collapses first. Unfortunately, if it does not, the only option for stopping Iran is war – and war is a very bad option.

Pakistan is worth invoking when assessing whether the sanctions now imposed on Iran will force it to surrender its nuclear program. In 1965, Pakistani Foreign Minister Zulficar Ali Bhutto famously declared that if India, its sworn enemy, went nuclear, his country would “eat grass and even go hungry” in order to develop a nuclear bomb of its own. Today, Pakistan, a near-failed state on the verge of disintegration, possesses more nuclear warheads than India.

Iran’s theocratic regime, immersed in a momentous struggle for survival against what it regards as an unholy alliance of Israel, the American “Great Satan,” and a surrounding Arab world that abhors its hegemonic ambitions, will not surrender its nuclear ambitions easily. Indeed, nuclear weapons appear to be the regime’s only real route to self-preservation.

The French and the Soviet revolutions taught us that exporting the revolution is one way to protect it. Iran tried that, and failed. The almost inevitable fall of Iran’s closest ally in the region, the Baath regime in Syria, only adds to the regime’s paranoid anxieties – and makes developing a nuclear capability seem all the more necessary for its survival.